Vogel’s “Indecent” masterly crafted at Wilbury


“The true story of a little Jewish play” by playwright Paula Vogel is given a masterful production at Wilbury Theatre Group in their reconfigured space at Waterfire Arts Center

It took a village to produce this Tony-nominated play, including seven actors playing multiple roles, three talented musicians, and a host of behind-the-scenes folks, including the Waterfire guru himself, Barnaby Evans, who directed the special effects.

The one-act play (1 hour 45 minutes) tells the story of  Yiddish writer Sholem Ash’s first play, “God of Vengeance” which was first performed in Warsaw in 1906, and caused a ton of controversy among the Jewish community and eventually around the world.

The actors speak in more than one language, cleverly acknowledged on the wall behind them.

Anna Slate plays the daughter of an abusive brothel owner who keeps his lucrative business in his family’s basement. She falls in love with one of the prostitutes, raising controversy when lesbian love is shown on stage for the first time.

The acting troupe performs the play, showing faults of Jews which is considered blasphemy by some, but the play goes on until it reaches America, where it is considered “Indecent” and eventually revised, closed, and condemned.

We learn in retrospect what happened to the actors and the playwright in a stirring conclusion.

There is so much in this play, and the play within the play, that will get you thinking about not only censorship, but anti-Semitism and prejudice as well.

The music adds another dimension to the play, (Dylan Bowden on accordion, Assel Sat on clarinet, and Florence Wallis on violin) as the trio become an integral part of the story.

Chris Stahl is so innocently delightful as the devoted stage manager, with Patrick O’Konis, Aimee Doherty, Dave Rabinow, Stephanie Carlson,  and Scott Levine, adjusting perfectly to their roles.

A closing scene “in the rain” with Anna Slate and Aimee Doherty is one of the best I’ve ever seen on stage.

“Indecent” is at Wilbury Theatre Group in Waterfire Arts Center,475 Valley St., Providence through May 7.

Tickets range from$5 to $55, with standard admission at $35.

Wilbury is a quality theatre accessible to all.

For reservations, call 400-7100, or go online at thewilburygroup.org.